Let’s say you are in a world that suddenly falls victim to a global pandemic. You’re not entirely sure how this happened, or how your country didn’t react to it faster, but here you are. All your plans are put on hold and the re-establishment of the sibling pecking order is driving you crazy. So, what do you do?
Learn how to dance, of course! Your first attempts involve too-thin mirrors, juggled computers displaying Youtube tutorials, and several stubbed toes. It’s painfully obvious that you need someplace to dance. Luckily, there’s an available room in the back of your parent’s unfinished basement. It’s cool, separate from your siblings (otherwise known as unnecessary judgment), and blissfully spacious.
The only issue? Everything in sight is concrete. As you look around, you suddenly have a crazy idea: Why don’t you build a dance studio? It’s time to try new things, explore new frontiers! It could be easy, and fun – just the project you need. There’s only one problem, however:
You’ve never built anything in your entire life.
Lesson #1: Thorough Research Pays Off… Literally
First thing’s first: that concrete floor cannot be good for dancing. While you know that much, you’re not sure what would be a good material to dance on. Perhaps something softer than concrete, such as carpet or a mat of some kind. While browsing for the best deals for carpets online, you realize that dancers probably know best what material works best.
You open a new window in your browser and make a quick search.
Wow, okay. What a vocal community. Obviously, carpet is out.
Well, maybe you should approach this differently. What is the ideal material to dance on?
Marley flooring? How much does that cost?
$1, 550 per roll?? Is it woven out of gold or something?? You shut the computer and take a few moments to collect yourself. Your budget is definitely not Marely-floor-friendly. What makes this material so special anyway?
You re-open the computer and scroll down the page. Under the product, there is a handy-dandy list of reasons why dancers would want to spend their life savings on Marley flooring. Among these are:
Wait, those characteristics are pretty broad. You bet you could find a suitable substitute in no time! Optimistic, you mosey on over to something more in your price range that has a positive, you-can-do-it spirit. In other words, you go to the Home Depot website.
There, you read review after review and even discover inner circles of veteran DIYers alongside life-long craftsman discussing the best materials. With this help, you are able to find your flooring! Interlocking vinyl planks are non-slip, economically priced, easily cleaned, and padded with soundproofing underneath. They’re perfect in every way – they’re even waterproof. All that research really did pay off.
Lesson #2: It’s Hard To Make Ideas Stick
You have successfully installed flooring! All that’s left, really, is to install a few mirrors so that you can see yourself (an absolute must when learning to dance). You apply lesson #1 and learn that the most economical and sure way of getting high-quality mirrors is to browse online yard sales.
That is a circus within itself, mostly because you didn’t know you’d get just any result until you enabled your geographical location. The good news is most sellers dutifully post exact measurements, along with semi-desperate pleas to remove over-sized mirrors as soon as humanly possible. You are more than happy to oblige.
Some clever bargaining leaves you triumphant with three large mirrors of similar size. Their frames are all heavy and made of wood, so you immediately remove them with some screwdrivers and free sibling labor. All that’s left is to mount the mirrors on the wall adjacent to the flooring. Some hooks, wire, careful measuring, and your abundance of optimism ought to do it!
Unfortunately, reality cares little for your optimism.
The walls are all made of concrete. Not only that, but they are comprised of different kinds of concrete cemented together. According to your trusty, omniscient, online community, this is particularly tricky to hang objects on. The best way is to buy a hammer drill, which pounds through the concrete while it drills.
You’re pretty sure that avoiding drilling permanent holes into the wall of your parent’s house is just common sense. In addition, you’re hesitant to spend that much money on a tool that will be used a grand total of once.
Further application of lesson #1 yields a better option: You can just get a tube of liquid nails! Attaching wire to the back of your mirrors with liquid nails before attaching the hook to the wall with the same adhesive will allow you to hang the mirrors as you would paintings. All it will take is some careful measuring, lifting, and that can-do attitude of yours!
Since you’re nervous about hanging mirrors above a concrete floor, you decide to conduct a small test on one mirror before doing all of them. Good thing, too, because 48 hours later, you try lifting the mirror by the wire only to have the wire snap off with all the liquid glue.
So much for omniscient online community experts…
Lesson #3: Sometimes, Mother Knows Best
Stunned and discouraged, you go upstairs and relay the disappointing news to your mother. You explain what happened and express your confusion at what you might have done wrong. Your mother listens patiently, then asks how you could have such a fine education but forgotten basic physics. (You’re not entirely sure whether or not she’s mad or teasing, but either way, she’s helping so focus).
After she sketches out the basic principle of surface area to you, you’re excited again. All you need is some more material for the liquid nails to adhere to, and then it can take the weight of the mirror!
You head back to the basement and select a piece of wood from a leftover pile of beams. Sawing on a ping-pong table is awkward, to say the least, but you only need one piece for now. You take the sawed-off piece and use liquid nails to attach it to the back of the test mirror. Twenty-four hours later, to your absolute delight, the liquid nails are as stable as a rock. The mirror can be picked up with the wood alone. You did it! Talking to your mother was exactly the right step.
Unbeknownst to you, however, the mirrors will never make it on the walls.
Lesson #4: New And Improved Doesn’t Mean Functional
You have an uneasy feeling about your new breakthrough, and procrastinate testing whether the liquid nails will help stick more wood to the wall, which you hope will also help take the weight of the mirrors once hung. You’re still worried that the liquid nails might snap off like they did when it was just wire, resulting in shattered mirrors. A couple of weeks later, you have the opportunity to chat with a family that has done a lot of home improvement projects and ask them their opinion.
They are shocked that you chose to use liquid nails. You live in a desert. The dry climate will dehydrate the liquid nails over time, causing it to crack and crumble. It can’t continue holding anything up if it’s dust.
In regards to your studio, in particular, they critique every alternative idea you have been able to come up with, including hanging the mirrors from the ceiling, building a structure to screw the mirrors into, or even gluing the mirrors directly onto the wall. Instead, they go back to that original idea of using a hammer drill to secure the mirrors to the wall. They assure you that it is the only way to hang things in concrete, and you really don’t want to take any chances with something as fragile as an unframed mirror, right? That’s quite a few years of bad luck, after all.
After this discussion, you start seriously considering drilling holes in the wall.
Lesson #5: It’s Important To Look Up
You sit down dejectedly on the floor you interlocked weeks ago, staring at the ceiling. You have just learned that you will never be able to put holes in the walls of this room. Why? Because the room you decided to construct your dance studio in is directly below your parent’s garage.
Right above your head are several tons of metal contained in two cars, even more than that if they’re dripping with water weight. Carefully designed as a vital, strong foundation, the room is an important piece of the house’s structural integrity. Put simply, drilling holes in the wall would be a very, very bad idea.
It’s depressing, you really thought you had a shot at building a dance studio. You even started figuring out how to hook up an old projector and put up a sheet as a screen, meaning no more computer juggling when following Youtube tutorials. You even bought some decorations and a fan to help make the place feel more comfortable if only you could get those mirrors on the wall. Now, however, you learn that the project was doomed from the very beginning. The only sure way to get those mirrors on the wall could damage the structural integrity of your parent’s house.
If only you had looked up.
Lesson #6: Endings Are Rarely Clean-Cut Affairs
The unfinished dance studio remains just as you left it. No one goes down to the backroom of an unfinished basement anyway, so why clean up? It stares up at you through the floorboards, waiting. You feel the weight of it when you pass by the basement door. It hurts that you were never able to finish what you started.
You believe you will still finish it, one day. You haven’t given up on completing a project that has become about more than dancing. In the beginning, you were completely out of your depth, but you learned so much over the months of brainstorming, research, and application. In a way, the dance studio is something to be proud of, even if its story isn’t over yet.
You can find a way to hang those mirrors on that thrice-blasted wall so you can finally dance. Similarly, you can find a way to safely function in a pandemic-plagued world and feel as though you’ve got your life back. The only limits are the measure of your desire and creativity.
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